The view which used to be held, as a necessary counterpart, that the “souls” of evil people go to “hell”, there to suffer torments, is now very generally abandoned, except for the Catholic Church, which maintains belief in hell, purgatory, limbo and paradise. It must be said that there is a certain lack of reason in the popular attitude here. For if the “souls” of the righteous go to heaven, where do the “souls” of the wicked go?
How do we settle this question about what happens after death? Where do we go for a thoroughly reliable and truthful answer?
Just think what the Bible does. It records how the human race came into being and it explains in clear terms why there is evil, suffering and death in the world. It tells us positively what happens after death. And it also reveals the new kind of life which can be ours, if we will only pay attention to its message.
“The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)
“… in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” (3:19)
“All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast … and every man: all in whose nostrils was the breath of life … died.” (7:21,22)
“Thou (God) takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” (104:29)
“that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath … All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (3:18-20)
“Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?” (verse 21)
“Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” (Psalm 49:20)
“his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146:4)
“in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5)
“The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” (verse 17)
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything … Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished … Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (9:5-10)
“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:1,2)
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-3)
“… the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his (Jesus’) voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (condemnation).” (John 5:28,29)
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“What is your life? For ye are a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14, RV)
“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (he means in death), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope … For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven … with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise …” (1 Thessalonians 4:13,16)
(Jacob, mourning the loss of his son Joseph): “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning …” (Genesis 37:35).
“In the grave who shall give thee (God) thanks?” (Psalm 6:5).
“… there is no work … nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
“Gehenna: … the valley of lamentation … is the name of a valley to the South and East of Jerusalem, so called from the cries of little children, thrown into the fiery arms of Molech, an idol having the form of a bull. The Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. Since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies, that the air might not become tainted by the putrefaction, it came to pass that the place was called ‘Gehenna of fire’.”
“If thine eye offend thee (cause thee to stumble, RV), pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna) fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (see the whole passage, Mark 9:43-48)
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25,26)
“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (verse 42)
“Verily, I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in paradise”?
“Verily, I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise”?
“The central fact of our creed … is not the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the body. Our Saviour brought life and incorruption (not immortality) to light … Bearing this truth in mind, we can see the force of Paul’s words: ‘The Lord Jesus shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation’ (Phil. 3:21, R.V.).” – Some Lessons of the Revised Version of the New Testament, page 192.
“I think … that, in the doctrine of human nature, the proposition that the soul of man is in its essence incorruptible, and so necessarily immortal … is derived from Greek philosophy and not from scripture.” – The Holy Spirit and the Church, page 288, footnote.
“The idea of the inherent indestructibility of the human soul (or consciousness) owes its origin to Greek, and not to Bible sources. The central theme of the New Testament is eternal life, not for anybody and everybody, but for believers in Christ as risen from the dead.” – page 23.
“the gospel which I preached unto you … by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you …” (1 Corinthians 15:1,2)
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …” (Romans 1:16)